Optical proximity correction (OPC) is a critical step in semiconductor manufacturing due to its high complexity and significant influence on the subsequent process steps. Conventional OPC using the Maxwell equation can become more and more challenging as a fully vectorized three-dimensional simulation is required for advanced technology nodes. Machine learning (ML) has been a promising alternative recently. This work proposes machine-learning-assisted human decision, which can be more in line with the clean room engineer's practice and can potentially surpass pure human decision and the pure machine learning approach. Using 10-step optimization in the photolithographic mask, the averaged mean square error (MSE) at the optimized cases are 6360 and 2101 for two-bar patterns and 7132 and 5931 for tri-line attackers when comparing pure human decision and ML-assisted human. The average MSEs at the first 3 steps are 26019 and 6023 for the two-bar pattern and 79979 and 7738 for the tri-line attacker when comparing pure ML and ML-assisted human. It is suggested that the strength of the ML-assisted human decision lies in the early-stage superiority over pure ML, flexibility, incorporating past experience, and a human sense that cannot be formulated concretely by statistical models.
- machine learning
- Optical proximity correction